The buzz of last year’s 1A state championship loss has translated into a quiet confidence for South Whidbey’s baseball team.
Despite reaching the state title game for the first time in school history, the Falcons have entered this season with a cool head on their shoulders, head coach Tom Fallon said.
Rather than let the success inflate their egos, he admired his team for using it as a platform to improve.
“I always have loved baseball players who don’t tell me how good they are, they go out and show me and I think that’s the way our team comes across,” Fallon said. “We’re not cocky, we’re not boasting, we’re not going to be the loud obnoxious team. We’ve run into those and beat those teams. I’ve just told these guys all the years I’ve played and coached, those are the most satisfying wins.”
That doesn’t mean the players don’t reflect on their experience from last season.
“It was otherworldly,” said senior utility player Josiah Colby. “It’s one of my best memories.”
After turning heads at the state championship, the Falcons have their sights set on achieving similar success this season. They’ll do so with a target on their back, Fallon said.
South Whidbey returns five of its starters, including first-team all-Cascade Conference shortstop Ricky Muzzy.
“Personal stats don’t mean much to me as of now,” Muzzy said. “I want the team to do well and I’m going to do my job at all times.”
Colby said the team will miss graduated players including Mo Hamsa, Brent Piehler and Campbell Albertsen, but not as much as the team might think.
“They’re all guys we’re going to miss, but we’re still a great team and we’ve got great pieces,” Colby said. “The most important part is that we didn’t lose the spirit of the team. We have players come and we have players go, but we’re always the South Whidbey Falcons.”
Colby will see his role expanded this season as one of the Falcons’ utility players. He said his personal goals are to pitch well when he’s on the mound and fulfill his role in whatever situation he finds himself in.
He said the team’s goals are to win half their games or better and to always prioritize the team over the individual.
A strength for the Falcons this season will be pitching, Fallon said. He felt depth may be one of the Falcons’ weaknesses this season, after seeing a turnout of 21 athletes in the first week of practice. South Whidbey averages around 25 players per season.
“Our motto last year was ‘Nine strong,’ and that carries forward” Fallon said. “It doesn’t matter how many they bring or how many they have in the dugout. It’s our nine against their nine and I think when we adopted that last year, the intimidation factor goes away.”
Fallon highlighted Muzzy, junior Will Simms and junior Connor Antich as impact players for the Falcons.
“We really don’t look at just one or two guys to carry the team,” Fallon said. “Every guy is a role player in one way or another. That’s what’s really helped us.”
The Falcons open the season on Saturday, March 12 with a jamboree hosted by Oak Harbor High School. First pitch is at 11 a.m.